Fresh Columbia River Chinook Salmon! Tribes Open Sale Memorial Day Weekend

Courtesy Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish CommissionFresh-caught fish for sale on the Columbia River
Courtesy Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
Fresh-caught fish for sale on the Columbia River
Indian Country Today

For Memorial Day weekend, leaders from the Umatilla, Yakama, Warm Springs and Nez Perce tribes opened a two-night commercial gillnet fishery that will bring ample amounts of fresh spring chinook to the salmon-loving public. The latest fishery comes on the heels of an above average spring chinook run which should reach 224,000 returning adults. This spring’s commercial fishery will be the largest in the last four years.

“The tribes are just one the many communities benefiting from this year’s spring chinook run,” said Paul Lumley, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission’s executive director. “For the first time in four years, we are thrilled to share the coveted spring chinook salmon with our loyal customers that appreciate fresh and locally-caught fish.”

A tribal fisher checks his nets along the Columbia River. (Courtesy Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission)
A tribal fisher checks his nets along the Columbia River. (Courtesy Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission)


Indian fishers may be found selling fish at a number of locations along the river including Marine Park at Cascade Locks, Lone Pine at The Dalles, and the boat launch near Roosevelt, Washington as well as other locations. Commercial sales will not occur on Corps of Engineers property at Bonneville Dam. Information on where the day’s catch is being sold is available by calling Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission’s salmon marketing program at (888) 289-1855 or visiting the salmon marketing website Price is determined at the point of sale and sales are cash only.

The tribal fishery is protected by treaties made with the federal government in 1855, where the right to fish at all usual and accustomed fishing places in the Columbia River basin was reserved. The tribal treaty right extends beyond ceremonial and subsistence fisheries to commercial sales. The Columbia River fisheries are adjusted throughout the season in accordance with management agreements and observed returns.



Yakamas urge feds to consider horse slaughter

By Shannon Dininny, The Associated Press

YAKIMA — A Northwest Indian tribe urged federal officials to explain their position against slaughtering horses in the United States, calling it “absurd” to prohibit the practice.

The question of equine slaughter has been a hot-button issue in the West, where horses hold an iconic role as loyal companions. Animal welfare groups have expressed outrage at the idea of resuming domestic slaughter, which Congress effectively banned in 2006 by cutting funding for federal inspection programs. Others, including some animal welfare groups, contend the ban has resulted in increased horse abuse and abandonment and booming wild horse populations on state, federal and tribal lands.

No group is perhaps more affected by the matter than the Yakama Nation, a Washington tribe with an estimated 12,000 wild horses roaming across its sprawling reservation in the arid, south-central part of the state, Yakama Nation Chairman Harry Smiskin said in a March 29 letter to President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“We don’t understand why it is OK to slaughter many animals in this country — certainly the White House and the USDA have meat on their cafeteria menus every day — but for some reason horses are considered sacrosanct,” Smiskin wrote. “We should not manage these horses based on purely emotional arguments, story books or movies we all saw as children.”

Smiskin argued the market for horse meat in other parts of the world, as well as the United States before World War II, could create jobs, humanely reduce overpopulated herds and feeds others, adding “it is absurd to prohibit it.”

Smiskin declined to talk about the letter in a telephone interview Monday.

Congress lifted the slaughter ban in a spending bill the president signed into law in November. Now the USDA is preparing to inspect a southern New Mexico meat company that has been fighting for more than a year for approval to convert its former cattle slaughter operation into a horse slaughterhouse.

Valley Meat Co. sued the USDA last year to resume the inspections, and the agency said last month it had no choice legally but to move forward with the application, as well as several others. However, the Obama administration threw a new twist into the more than yearlong debate with a statement urging Congress to reinstate the ban.

Several Northwest tribes have joined together in support of opening a horse slaughterhouse in the region to address booming wild horse populations on their reservations. The Yakama and Colville tribes in Washington, the Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes in Oregon, and Shoshone Bannock in Idaho say the horses destroy medicinal plants and damage habitat for other species.


Associated Press writer Jeri Clausing contributed to this story from Albuquerque, N.M.